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Archive for the ‘Modern Life’ Category

What was under that deck? Lots of ferns, salal and blackberries…and some flat land!

A peek up at the former deck, from cottage level.

Quick, lets plant something!. I had 8 seed potatoes left, so in they went. Since big, bold deer are frequent visitors from the adjoining park, it will be tricky to fend them off.

Looking in the window.

For a start, I’m mulching my plants heavily with seaweed from the nearby beach. When I go for a walk with the dog, I take a 5 gallon pail and selectively fill it, being careful to not take too much from any one area of the beach, as it is an important part of the ecosystem.

A quick rinse and into the garden.

Opinions are split as to whether the seaweed needs rinsing or not. I give it one quick fresh water rinse to take off the surface salt. I have read that deer don’t like to eat seaweed. But I also know they love salt…Stand by for my report in the months ahead.

Rand picked up a faucet splitter that allows us to run a hose up to the new garden area. This will also allow me to keep the composter wetted. Big improvement.

There are 8 potatoes under those piles of seaweed. that mess in the background is the “door to Narnia” before I attacked it.

Behind the new spud patch, there is an area that was a hole in the now-demolished deck. My kids called it the door to Narnia.

And Rand used to sweep leaves into the hole. So now, under a stump, more blackberries and ivy vines, what do I discover but about 12 inches of dark rich compost!. So I spent the whole afternoon with a heavy maddock, chopping out huge roots.

Rand came up and sawed down an acacia (weed) tree that would impact the light. And I hauled a half ton of debris down to the utility trailer for next weeks trip to the Green Waste.

Nasty blackberry roots.
The door to Narnia is ready to plant.

I will keep collecting, rinsing and distributing seaweed, both up top, and as a mulch for the lower garden. Here are some advantages:

Its free, and plentiful

It has dozens of trace minerals and is touted as a perfect, balanced fertilizer.

It rehydrates with each rain fall or watering, and delivers its goodness to the roots by leaching seaweed ‘tea’.

It prevents evaporation of water by shielding the ground surrounding plants.

It is attractive to helpful critters like worms and pillbugs.

But slugs don’t like it because it has sharp edges when it dries, and is a bit salty.

It doesn’t contain seeds or other plant bits that can take hold in your garden. Other mulches can hide surprises like…foxtails!

Like peat moss, it aerates the soil. Unlike manure, it doesnt need to decompose before using. Pile it on, 4-6 inches deep. Or more. This stuff is gold.

The only question is, will the deer scarf it up as quickly as I can lay it down?

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It’s almost like we knew. We planned holiday travel for February instead of our usual May, and we blocked rentals on the cottage until late July so we could “enjoy it ourselves.”

And here we are, enjoying it as much as is possible in these unprecedented times. We can go out, work on the property until we are so tired we sleep deeply, and take a walk on the beach when we need to see a bigger piece of the sky. We are so lucky to have this option. Each day it sinks in a little deeper that this is likely to be our principle home this year. So, let the projects begin! Might as well make this time count.

We are rebuilding a shed, revamping the garden, tearing down an old deck, clearing massive amounts of overgrowth and then…well we’ll see. This may be the biggest transformation the place has seen in decades, so better document it here for our records.

A rotting and dangerous deck that predates us must go.
Ditto this shed, to be replaced with a larger and more weatherproof version.
This topsoil isn’t gonna spread itself.
But also making time (like that is hard) for health and wellness.

Hereafter: more pictures for the most part, to record our progress and our errily quiet lives at this most unusual time.

Sidebar, I’m going to learn how to drum via the internet, lose 4 pounds and reconnect with my core muscles.

These projects can’t mask the fact that the news is very distressing and I have to limit my consumption. So many people are in much more difficult circumstances than us, and the means to help are not clear as yet. Except of course, stay home.

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For me, September marks the New Year. I no longer have the fun (maybe only in retrospect) of back-to-school shopping for clothes and sheaves of ruled paper for my sons, but still, I never feel more motivated to make meaningful changes than I do in September. This year I have the opportunity to seize on a deep and recurrent desire to really de-clutter my home. And I am on a roll.

I have discovered that taking pictures of stuff I am getting rid of is an excellent reinforcing tool. I initially just took a few pictures with the vague idea of a blog post, but I now plan to continue with both the de-cluttering and the photos.

I encourage everyone to try this: When you need a little motivation to continue with what is, lets face it, a tough chore, you can look back at your folder of pictures of things leaving your living space. You will be astonished and proud of what you have accomplished: Your resolve to continue the process will be strengthened and you will think carefully before bringing new things into your home as well. Once you have completed the process, you can delete the folder of pictures, and thereby rack up another de-cluttering accomplishment. Hopefully, a few of my photos will inspire you to give this a try. Trust me, photos of your own clutter will be even more inspiring.

Here is proof of how serious I am:  The hiking boots in the first picture arrived on a Christmas Eve 25 years ago and concealed an engagement ring in the toe. My love lives on but the boots must go!

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I deliver the best stuff to Crossroads Hospice Thrift store

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The rest goes to Value Village or Big Brothers. I kept the cat…for now.

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This is excess recycling, going to Encorp depot

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Newly empty hangers from my closet

 

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Second bathroom is taking shape. Never a moment to blog it, but here is a sneak peak at our new master bath.

BEFORE

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AND AFTER…

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Everything you see in this picture was a smashing deal. Tub was a floor model marked down 75% and included taps and all the plumbing parts necessary for install – the latter often priced separately and the former always!

Tile was discounted and Jenn Brown’s recommended tile installer did a fantastic job at a terrific price – though we had to wait weeks to get on his work schedule.

That fabulous barn board floor? Vinyl, my friend. Warm, soft on the feet, water proof and easy-care. I found it at NuFloors at $4.69/sq. foot. Jenn Brown found it elsewhere for $3.29/sq. foot.

The art work was 20% off and then a further 50% off that. The vase also 75% off. Full disclosure: These were my picks so if you don’t like them, its my taste you despise.

Moral of the story: It simply takes a little longer to pull it together when trying to get what you want and a deal.

Everything has been operational since a few days before Christmas, but we continue to work away at mouldings, paint touch ups and other final details. I keep waiting and hoping I will find a spectacular deal on a tall, 300 watt towel warmer, but will soon give up on this dream and just order one. You can’t rush it, but sometimes you need to be finished.

Once I find the right frame for a particular photo, I will post Before and Afters of the third bathroom.

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If you noticed my new friend in my last post you already know something about this. This month, for the first time, both Bu and Lu moved away to school and we are officially empty nesters.

In advance of this event I succumbed to a long held inclination and adopted a rescued dog. Received him rather suddenly on the day Farley Mowat passed away. And since he had just been plucked from a shelter with very low adoption rates – if you catch my drift – in the greater Los Angeles area, we recognized his new citizenship and a new start in life by naming him after that great Canadian writer.

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Now Farley goes most places with me.  He is happy at the cottage, so with rental season winding down, he and I will start to spend some time there. For a smallish dog he is pretty versatile: Canoes, hikes and travels well with us. We are vastly contented with each other. Cottager – who was agreeable to a dog but not really enthusiastic – likes him too.

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As the saying goes, adopting a rescue dog won’t change the world, but it will change that one dog’s life forever – and your own.

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I can never remember -exactly- what blooms when. So I will be posting pictures once a month for future reference and so I can choose and position new perennials to best advantage in future. 

Peiris

Peiris

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Lenten Rose. (Hellebore)

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Bluebells and primrose

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Pig's Ear

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Heather

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Trillium

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Rhododendron

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Mystery plant from my neighbour Elaine

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Sweet olive tree just one sunny day away from bloom.

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Heading for the Sunshine Coast?  If, like most folks, your route takes you straight up the highway from the ferry, then you will shortly pass the new Beer Farm.

Don’t!  Pass it, that is.
Drive on in.

This is the home of Persephone Brewing Company – a new and wildly popular craft brewery on a lovely property which was formerly home to a flower nursery. 

1 and 1.89 litre growlers available to take along and start your Coast visit in the pleasantest of ways. We like the Goddess golden ale, but the Red ale is also good.

Check their hours before you continue on your way, as you will want to grab a growler re-fill on your way back to the ferry.

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Growing hops at the beer farm

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Spent part of this evening at El Camino’s on Main – where all the hip people are if you’ve been missing them. Subtitled as Central American Streetfood. Packed on a Monday night when decent 2 oz margaritas are 5$. Tapas size portions great for sharing. Awesome music too – if you have great hip retro tastes like me, that is: vintage Bowie, the Knack, The Cars and Blondie. Very cool crowd, but we got good service even without toques, porkpie hats or large colorful spectacles!

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When we first bought the cottage, I was determined to paint every interior wall.
Then I started to like the white-white walls and white-white trim.

Over the winter, we’ve done a mini make-over of the kitchen – with a few finishing touches yet to come. We replaced the dishwasher, stove and baseboard heater.

And it became clear that it was a good time to paint. So would it be white-white or white on white?We opted for white on white. Aside from the simple happiness a really fresh coat of paint can bring – I like it.

Didn’t go looking for Linen White as recommended by the Cottage Decor guru. Simple reason – we had a half a gallon of BM Elmira White. In some lights and angles the difference is very subtle – just enough to make the white trim pop.

At night, under artificial light, (and in this “after” picture) it is a bit more distinct. For a kitchen, I would say its pretty perfect.

Won’t be long until we feel the urge to give the main room and halls a paint job too. Probably next winter or spring. When we do, I will likely go about 50% lighter still, to get a really subtle white on white effect in these areas that will still harmonize with the kitchen and make all that white trim pop.

So here it is before…

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And here it is after – with a new piece of countertop and some backsplash tile still to come….

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

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The Cottager is technically Irish, so with St. Patrick’s Day falling on the weekend, it seemed a good time to invite the neighbours in. Everyone brought something, and it was a fine meal with lots of laughs on the side.

We started with a cheese plate featuring marbled Guinness cheese. Very pretty and mild. Andy made soda bread, which arrived warm. I made a dip with corned beef, dill and cream cheese.

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Next up was two types of barbecued sausages, served along with brown onion gravy, green salad, and colcannon, a traditional potato dish with cabbage and bacon mashed right in.

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Then there were two great cakes. I made Nigella Lawson’s dense Chocolate Guinness cake – I’d make it again, but I would try it in a tube or bunt pan another time as it sunk a bit in the middle. It has a cream cheese icing that makes the cake resemble a glass of Guinness.

My neighbour, Margaret, made a fabulous Bailey’s cake that apparently starts with a yellow cake mix but took it to another level. When I get the recipe I’ll post it.

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